Thursday, December 31, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Ars Nova" - Ars Nova (1968)

"Ars Nova"Ars Nova (1968)

I didn't dislike Ars Nova's debut album, but the wow factor was fairly low.  Nothing bad, but nothing stands out either.  There are a few Baroquish tracks that have occasional low-bottom brass and a Medieval presence that throws off a bit of a time-traveling vibe.  There are subtle hints of psych ghosts yet-to-come...but they never stay for very long.  I'm glad I picked it up, but I'm not sure how often I'll play it.

"Ars Nova" (back)

The band sometimes sound like they might've kicked some dirt wandering through the English countryside, but they are just good-ol' New York boys.  The guys look dark and foreboding on the front cover.  If only the album had more of that attitude.  Favorites are the opener "Pavan For My Lady."   The most psych-ish track..."And How Am I To Know" a grower that whips itself up into a nice, if short, fuzz-burner midway through the spin.  And the closing "March Of The Mad Duke's Circus" ends this Elektra square on an upswing.

This Ars Nova self-titled album is not an expensive album to own.  If you stumble upon one in the brush...and it falls near the $10 range...that may be compelling enough for you to add the album to your collection.  However, any more cabbage than that, and I recommend streaming it first.  The vinyl is on the Elektra tan label and the album cover is a gatefold-unipak with lyrics on the inside.  My copy came with the original record sleeve.  

"Ars Nova" (inside gatefold unipak)

Elektra sleeve

Elektra label

Cat #
EKS-74020-A  A1  C4X3X8
EKS-74020-B  AL  4X3X8

"And How Am I To Know" - Ars Nova / "Ars Nova" (1968) 

A1  "Pavan For My Lady" 2:45
A2  "General Clover Ends A War" 2:12
A3  "And How Am I To Know" 4:45
A4  "Album In Your Mind" 3:01
A5  "Zarathustra" 3:30
B1  "Fields Of People" 2:52
B2  "Automatic Love" 4:06
B3  "I Wrapped Her In Ribbons" 2:18
B4  "Song Of The City" 2:08
B5  "March Of The Mad Duke's Circus" 3:17

Jon Pierson – vocals, bass trombone
Bill Folwell – trumpet, b-vocals, double bass
Giovanni Papalia – lead guitar
Wyatt Day – guitar, b-vocals, piano, organ
Jonathan Raskin - bass, b-vocals, guitar
Maury Baker - drums, percussion, organ

Good stuff.


Monday, December 14, 2020

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "Superman: Birthright" - by Mark Waid (Leinil Francis Yu & Gerry Alanguilan) (2005)

"Superman: Birthright"
by Mark Waid - Leinil Francis Yu - Gerry Alanguilan
DC Comics (2005)
314 pages

(I stumbled upon a good-sized box filled with a variety of graphic novels at an estate sale. No official count as I've just been pulling from the box when I find time to read one.)

"Superman: Birthright" is the retelling of the origin of Clark Kent, aka Superman.  Mark Waid has updated the story for fresh eyes and does an excellent job laying the groundwork for our hero.  I've never been a huge fan of heroes that are omnipotent or nearly so, but the author wisely chooses to hook his readers by first letting us see our hero as a fairly cool, somewhat flawed, ordinary guy.  Not the dork I had come to believe.  By the time Clark puts on the red "S"...we're rooting for the dude. 

The author also does an excellent job of introducing the mad genius Lex Luthor to the story.  In this telling, Lex went to the same school as Clark Kent and were friends.  Later, of course, Lex would become the thornbush in Superman's garden.  As for the artwork, panels pop and hold hands with the story in a smooth fashion.  Nicely done.  "Superman: Birthright" is a fine story and left me in a good mood.  Nostalgia.  Whadyagonnado?

"Look Heart, No Hands" - Randy Travis / "Greatest Hits, Volume 2" (1992)

Good stuff.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Circus Maximus" - Circus Maximus (1967)

"Circus Maximus" - Circus Maximus (1967)

The Circus Maximus self-titled debut album is psych-tinged garagey folk-rock.  It has occasional freakouts and the tracks sound bright and loose with jangling guitars reminiscent a little of mid-period Byrds or Beau Brummels  The music is catchy and original.  The group is notable for having Jerry Jeff Walker in the band, but their other songwriter, Bob Bruno is the stronger of the two on this square.  Pushing things forward with a more biting, psych-driven edge.  The band was originally called the Lost Sea Dreamers, but Vanguard Records nixed that idea because the initials "LSD" was linked to the drug.

"Circus Maximus" (back)

Favorites are the keyboard-burner..."Short Haired Fathers."   The dark and ominous "Chess Game."  And the dreamy 8-minute headspin...."Wind" like nothing else on the album.  Floaty and jazzy and just an outstanding late-night drive song.  The song "Wind" did receive some airplay on the deeper FM and it's no wonder.  You can find good copies of this 1967 album in the $10 range and is a no-brainer. 

Vanguard company sleeve

Vanguard label

Cat #
o XSV124536-3B  P V SD 79260  A
XSV124537-3D  VSD 79260  B

"Wind" - Circus Maximus / "Circus Maximus" (1967)

A1  "Travelin' Around" 2:53
A2  "Lost Sea Shanty" 4:06
A3  "Oops I Can Dance" 3:31
A4  "Rest Of My Life To Go" 2:46
A5  "Bright Light Lovers" 2:50
A6  "Chess Game" 3:26
B1  "People's Games" 2:27
B2  "Time Waits" 3:46
B3  "Fading Lady" 5:34
B4  "Short-Haired Fathers" 2:59
B5  "Wind" 8:07

Jerry Jeff Walker - guitar, vocal
Bob Bruno - lead guitar, organ, piano, vocal
David Scherstrom - drums
Gary White - bass, vocal
Peter Troutner -  guitar, vocal, tambourine

Good stuff.

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Friday, December 4, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Fuzzy Duck" - Fuzzy Duck (1971)

 "Fuzzy Duck" - Fuzzy Duck (1971)

This is the 2020 UK/Europe reissue of Fuzzy Duck's self-titled album released in 1971.  "Fuzzy Duck" is a very solid hard rock album with tasteful prog dustings all in that early 70s flavor.  The band Fuzzy Duck compares quite well to their contemporaries of the era.  There are hints of Uriah Heep and Atomic Rooster and maybe some Bloodrock, but just hints.  The album sounds fresh and has a lot of energy and is worthy of receiving new attention.  There are no weak links on this album, either.  Drop the needle and crank it.

The band had an interesting pedigree.  On the keys was Ray Sharland who was with The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown.  Bassist Mick Hawksworth was in the Five Day Week Straw People...a tasty 1968 psych band out of Britain.  And drummer Paul Francis was also bangin' it as an original member of Tucky Buzzard.  

"Fuzzy Duck" (back)

Fuzzy Duck was from London and when their self-titled album was originally released, only 500 pressings were made.  Original copies are obviously very hard to come by and will set you back some major, major coinage.  The record is not a lost gem or anything, but it does sound pretty ambitious for its time.  And like I said, there are no bad tracks.

The only problem with my copy...the label on side one looks like it was torn at the bottom. (see below)  It doesn't affect the spin at all, but visually it's enough to piss one off.  Whadyagonnado?

Favorites include the psych-tinged "Afternoon Out."  And the excellent 7-min. prog-burn "Mrs. Prout" offers up a nice conversation between bass and organ...neither giving no quarter.  And the killer "Country Boy" is a surprising powderkeg and is quickly becoming a repeat spin.  Fuzzy Duck has a great sound. If you like early 70s hard rock, this album will slide onto your rock shebang with ease.

Be With Records

Cat #
BEWITH 082LP - A2  29154 2A [STAMPED]
BEWITH 082LP - B1  29154 1B [STAMPED]

"Afternoon Out"- Fuzzy Duck / "Fuzzy Duck" (1971)

A1  "Time Will Be Your Doctor" 5:06
A2  "Mrs. Prout" 6:45
A3  "Just Look Around You" 4:20
A4  "Afternoon Out" 5:20
B1  "More Than I Am" 5:30
B2  "Country Boy" 6:00
B3  "In Our Time" 6:49
B4  "A Word From Big D" 1:51

Grahame White – vocals, guitars
Mick Hawksworth – bass, vocals, 12-string acoustic guitar, electric cello, cricket bat
Roy Sharland – organ, vocals, electric piano
Paul Francis – drums, percussion

Good stuff.